St Joseph's Academy, Kilmarnock

Inspire and Transform

March 25, 2020
by Mr Kane
0 comments

Frequently Asked Questions

Dear Parent/Carer,

In response to some questions we have received and some observations made since we migrated to online delivery, we have created the following FAQ guide. Please note, moving forward we will direct parents/carers back to this post if we are asked questions already addressed here. This will reduce the number of similar requests for issues we have already provided clarity on e.g. questions about how to request glow passwords, or how to find glow groups and teams.

Firstly, it is important to clearly state that health is our number one priority at the moment. We cannot lose sight of the fact that this an unsettling and unique time for all of us. It is important that we acknowledge that everyone is trying their best in relation to online learning. I am keen to state that we must all have realistic expectations of one another. I am also mindful of the fact that we recently celebrated the feast of St. Joseph, and request his protection for all members of our school community.

From correspondence and observations to date, one recurring theme has emerged.

Parents/Carers anxious about their ability to support online learning/staff anxious about parental perception of school provision when issuing work online.

Please know that school staff understand that you are working hard to support your son/daughter, often in difficult family circumstances. School staff are not passing judgement on the level of work completed or otherwise. Similarly, staff are keen to ensure that work is provided, and may also be concerned that parents/carers perceive that staff are not doing enough. I would stress to colleagues that the volume of work uploaded so far is humbling. Staff commitment, like that of parents/carers, is not in doubt.

Notwithstanding the above, where the school identify pupils who have not signed in at all, and have not completed any work set in any subject area, we are duty bound to follow up with families. This will be by way of a supportive check-in, and will not happen before the Easter break. This should allow time to iron out any ongoing issues around passwords and access to files.

Likewise, where parents are concerned about a lack of work in a particular subject, it would be natural for parents to contact us trusting that we will follow up and support staff where necessary. However, it may be best to wait until after Easter, as there are some ongoing access issues that impact upon staff and pupils.

Given the SQA have stated that no coursework will be marked and that no exams will take place, how are schools going to determine grades for each course, and does my son/daughter need to complete any as yet incomplete coursework tasks?

We are awaiting further advice and guidance from the SQA, which we believe will be with us by the end of this week or the beginning of next week. We do have some guidance but are seeking clarification on one or two points, particularly around the role of already completed coursework as a point of reference when recommending an award against situations where coursework is incomplete. In the interim, we cannot fully address the concerns raised above. Once we have clarity from the SQA, we will be in a position to advise all parents/carers and pupils and will do so via our website, twitter, facebook and app. It is likely that this advice will be issued by East Ayrshire Council to ensure consistency in approach across the local authority.

It is also likely that this issue will require our attention over a sustained period of time and in the run up to the submission of grades. We require your patience over the next few weeks as we address this issue and release communication when we can.

We also need to be careful about sending mixed messages or creating inequality in opportunity. Please bear with us as we seek national and local guidance on the matter. I can assure you that this is our number one school level priority at the moment. In the meantime, we encourage S4-S6 pupils to complete tasks issued on Glow.

My son/daughter is getting too much/not enough work online, why is this?

This question is often linked to the following question:

Does the school expect my son/daughter to be online all day during school hours?

It must be clearly understood that online learning is not normal school provision. It is the first time in the history of Scottish education that all lessons are being delivered online. We cannot instantly move from face to face delivery to online delivery without acknowledging that it will take time to get it right. It would be unreasonable of staff, pupils and parents/carers to expect provision and/or engagement equivalent to that possible when learning in school.

If you feel that too much work has been issued, please double check deadlines and account for the amount of time per week that your son/daughter would spend on a subject when in school. For example, if they attend Maths four times per week, then that would account for two hundred minutes worth of learning. If the Maths work issued seems excessive, but is within two hundred minutes, then it does equate to the time that would be spent on Maths over the course of a school week. It is highly likely that staff are assigning work to be completed over the course of a week, rather than on a lesson by lesson basis. If in doubt, please ask your teacher directly via Glow.

In terms of the amount of time spent learning, a pupil completes twenty seven and a half hours in classes each week. If a young person is in the position to complete twenty seven and a half hours per week at home, they may wish to do so. Realistically, pressure around device access and parents working from home makes this target difficult for many. We would encourage you to do what you can, and to create and follow a timetable that suits your own circumstances. Teachers will be sympathetic to issues around shared access to devices etc. and you should email staff directly if you feel you can’t meet a deadline.

We know that it is also important to make time for family and that some of our young people will be caring for others. The central message is to do what you can by following a timetable that is realistic for you. We cannot provide pupil by pupil advice on a suitable timetable, as we are unable to accurately account for time spent on family matters, or the times at which you can access devices. Parents/Carers should be confident that the school are sympathetic and should therefore lead on the allocation of time and a manageable timetable within their own home. Staff must allocate enough work to account for maximum engagement, but this does not mean that we are naïve to the very real difficulties many pupils will have in accessing devices for the equivalent of a full school week. Parents/Carers may find it beneficial to speak to young people about their school timetable, and may wish to use the school timetable that their young person follows to formulate a manageable schedule for use at home.

If you are concerned that not enough work has been issued, please initially share your concerns with your class teacher who will be able to advise on the level of depth expected and/or additional materials or activities.

In terms of when pupils should be online, there is no absolute requirement that pupils are online for the duration of a school day. Family circumstances and access to devices will naturally dictate that for some people, access is more suitable in the evening. Equally some families may feel better placed to complete school work during the weekend, when there may be less need for some parents/carers to work from home.

This also applies to teachers, many of whom are also sharing devices with school aged children or attending to the care of those in vulnerable groups. This may mean that you ask a teacher a question via a group and do not receive a reply within school hours. This is okay, and to be expected. Please be assured that staff will get back to you as and when they can. It is also the case that senior leaders may still be working in one of the local authority hubs for children of key workers, and as such will not always be available to respond on the same day.

Will the school expect young people to be online to access new work during the Easter holiday period?

In short, no. Staff and young people are entitled to their break over Easter. It is still possible for young people to revise, study or access online content but there will be no expectation that young people would engage in new activity or be asked to submit work during the holiday period. Staff will not be expected to upload content or mark work during the holiday period. Homework tasks over school holidays are not unusual, and some staff may elect to issue holiday homework prior to the break. However, it would not need to be submitted until after the holiday period.

What work will S4 to S6 pupils complete during what would have been study leave?

There is no easy answer to the above question. As you know, from April 27th until the first week in June, staff would not generally issue work to students in S4 to S6. This is because students are normally completing exams at this time. Staff often use this time for staff development/training and to update all courses in advance of the new academic year. Much of this work still needs to take place. It may be natural to assume that S4 and S5 pupils can begin their new courses in advance of timetable change, but this is not the case, certainly not in the short term.

At this stage, it is too early to issue a timetable for next session, and we are unable to confirm places on courses etc. or to allocate classes to teachers. Over the month of April, we will, as always, construct next session’s timetable. Until the timetable is in place, we cannot create Glow groups or Teams to facilitate delivery of content for new courses. The way the groups are set up is via a link between the school management system and Glow. Glow pulls class data from SEEMIS to setup groups. Until we have populated the entire timetable for next session on SEEMIS, we cannot create groups in Glow. There is little that we can do about this as there is a reality around the time taken to generate a full school timetable that we cannot accelerate.

We aim to have groups setup for the new timetable by early May, but there will be a period between Easter and the new timetable where senior phase pupils may find a drop in work allocated during what would have been the exam period. Please be assured of the fact that we are conscious of this potential issue and are working hard to generate feasible contingency plans. An obvious point of contingency would be to encourage pupils to use this time to start to formulate UCAS personal statements and CVs. There are also a number of meaningful free online courses, such as the course offered on British Sign Language which would present meaningful opportunities to learn and develop skills. In the coming weeks we will collate a range of online learning materials that do not depend on Glow. Many organisations and celebrities have started to offer free online courses that could be used to top up school issued experiences during the closure period. Examples include Music and Cooking lessons which would link well to areas of the school curriculum.

We will issue more clarity on our plans for S4 and S5 as we move towards the 27th April and after the Easter break.

My son/daughter cannot open Microsoft files issued by teachers, can you help?

All young people can download Office365 for free, and we have posted instructions on how to access Office365 here:

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/ea/stjosephsacademy/2020/03/23/microsoft-office-365-free-to-all-pupils-via-glow/

My son/daughter cannot find any work when they login to Glow, can you help?

In a previous post on our website we explained how to find work via Groups. You can access that post here:

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/ea/stjosephsacademy/2020/03/23/school-closure-access-to-materials-online/

If having followed the instructions you are still experiencing issues, please see the next question and answer. If this does not help, please use the contact us page on our website to let us know. A member of staff will get back to you as soon as they can.

Please note, one or two pupils and parents/carers have asked about access to Teams. Access to Teams should be communicated via Glow Groups, so please sign in and access Groups, where you can post a question to your class teacher about where to find Teams. Groups is the default starting point for finding any additional online materials. It should also be noted that not all staff are using Teams. Teams is an additional layer of provision, but our baseline is Glow Groups. You may find that your class does not have a Team setup but it will have a Group in place where work will be shared with you.

My son/daughter can’t get into Groups on the school iPads or my mobile device, can you help?

This is related to the above question but differs slightly in that in this scenario, pupils know where to find Groups but can’t on certain devices.

Yes, we published guides on our website which account for this issue. Pupils need to use the desktop version on some devices, and the guides demonstrate how to access this. You can access groups from the iPads if you follow the guidance issued.

Please try to follow the instructions found here:

Access via iPad and some apple devices:

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/ea/public/stjosephsacademy/uploads/sites/2043/2020/03/20182231/Pupil-Glow-Guide-ipad.pdf

Access via laptop or PC:

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/ea/public/stjosephsacademy/uploads/sites/2043/2020/03/20182232/Pupil-Glow-Guide-computer.pdf

Access to groups on mobile phones:

It is also possible on a personal smartphone or tablet device to download the outlook app and sign in using your glow details. From within the menu which shows inbox etc. the Groups option will appear. If you try to sign in from your browser on a smartphone you may see email but not groups, so you should download the outlook app. You can download the dedicated outlook app for free from the store relevant to your mobile operating system.

If you are still encountering issues, use the contact us page on our website to let us know and someone will call you back to help resolve the issue.

My son/daughter has additional support needs, how can staff support them at home?

Staff can and will issue differentiated material in some contexts. However, it will not always be possible in every subject or for every pupil. If you have ongoing concerns in relation to this query then please use the contact us page and we will offer any support we can. We are also working on guidance which will direct you to some software that may be able to support you at home. Mrs Hoy and our Pastoral Care team can provide support and advice if this is an issue that you are concerned about.

It should be noted that tutorial groups and our AP base provision have their own dedicated glow groups to ensure that direct contact can be maintained between school staff and those young people who attended tutorials or the AP base. One of the main challenges in this respect is that much of the support offered in school is dependent upon face to face interaction with staff who know young people well. For obvious reasons, it is not possible to offer direct continuity in one to one support at this time. We will do all we can to act on specific concerns brought to our attention.

Why are different staff using different apps to upload work?

Because prior to the school closure, many staff were already offering material online via different apps from within Glow. As would be the case in a real lesson, staff have a degree of professional autonomy when teaching online. The ‘Groups’ provision is a baseline that all staff and pupils can readily access. From within each group, staff may direct young people to other online tools such as Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom. This is not unusual and is a feature of Scottish education already.

We do sympathise with young people who are finding it hard to navigate between different platforms within Glow. By way of reassurance, this is similar to your experience of trying to find classrooms when you first joined S1. Within a week or two, you will quickly determine which area of Glow is being used by your class teachers. If you are in any doubt, please use the Groups you are in to ask for clarification.

Staff should also be conscious of the fact that it is important to offer clarity from within the group area, as all pupils will be asked to check groups first.

It would be a good idea to take a note of the platform used by each class teacher you work with, and to keep this note by your side when you login to Glow.

Why have some teachers not started to issue work online?

Some staff are experiencing the same challenges that many of us face in relation to childcare/carer responsibilities, the reliability or otherwise of internet access and device response times. Please be assured of the fact that staff are checking in with one another regularly. For obvious reasons, we would not disclose publicly a scenario whereby a colleague is off work or unwell. Staff are all aware of the need to upload work and have already uploaded a very significant amount of content. Senior leaders are in contact with staff regularly. Principal Teachers are monitoring work issued across the department and will provide guidance in the absence of a colleague from within their department.

We only have one device at home, and many people need access to the device, can you please stop setting deadlines we cannot meet in the above circumstances?

Please do not worry if your son/daughter cannot complete every task issued or meet every deadline. In an ideal world, young people should be completing around five hours of work per day, as would be the case if in school. However, for a wide variety of reasons, including sharing devices, we know that this is not always possible. There is no pressure applied to you or your son/daughter on our part. Teachers do need to set deadlines as if a young person does have access for the duration of the school day, but fully appreciate that this is not always going to be possible while sharing devices. In the above circumstance, young people should email teachers to let staff know of when they feel they will be able to submit work.

In what order should my son/daughter complete tasks issued online?

We recommend that young people follow their timetable as much as possible. However, this need not be during school hours as mentioned earlier. We recommend that young people email their teachers to keep them up to date with when they can complete work. Try not to be unsettled by teachers posting lots of work when you are working on another subject. Teachers are doing so to ensure that when the time comes for you to work on their subject, you will find content that you can work on. Concentrate on following your timetable, or your self-created schedule as much as possible.

Can the school issue a device to my child e.g. a laptop for the duration of the school closure period?

In general, no, unless there is no device whatsoever in your household. This is because demand outstrips supply across the authority and indeed nationally. The school is not able to access a laptop per pupil. The council have issued devices to young people with no access to any device within their household. If a young person has access to Glow via a school iPad, or a home device such as a laptop, PC or tablet, they will be able to access Office365 and complete the overwhelming majority of work issued.

Please note that it is also possible to access glow via Xbox and PlayStation as detailed in a post we released on our website:

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/ea/stjosephsacademy/2020/03/20/glow-on-games-consoles/

Access to Glow is too slow to complete work, can the school help?

In short, no, as this is outwith the control of school staff. The unprecedented demand created by home working and home schooling means that many internet service providers are struggling to provide internet access in line with need. This is absolutely outwith our control.

My son/daughter can’t access Glow, can you help?

You can request a password reset via the Contact Us page. If you find that you can access Glow but can’t access a particular group then you should also use the Contact Us page to let us know. All requests via the Contact Us page will be actioned. Those submitted in other forms will be actioned if we are aware of the request.

Some of my sons/daughters classes have no teacher, as their teacher left recently, and their replacement has not started yet. Will those staff still join the school and take on responsibility for classes?

Yes, we are due to welcome three new staff in the coming weeks:

Miss Cathie – PT Pupil Support for Andrew House, joins on Friday 3rd April

Mrs Cunningham – PT Social Subjects, joins on Monday 27th April

Mrs Devine – Teacher of RE, joins on Monday 27th April

All three staff will be added to the relevant glow groups on their start date.

When are schools re-opening?

At the time of writing, we do not know. We will share any updates with you as and when they become available.

Do you have any information on refunds for the Prom and/or school trips that have been cancelled?

No, as this is now a national issue, and work is ongoing between suppliers, insurers, local authorities and schools. When we can share information with you we will. Please be certain of the fact that we will communicate what we receive as and when we can.

Will the prom be re-arranged?

We are not discounting the possibility of re-arranging the prom, but it is too early in the closure period to provide any more detail or absolute confirmation that this will be the case.

The question I had has not been addressed above, what can I do to get some support?

If you have any other questions, please use the ‘Contact Us’ page on our website and we will get back to you.

 

Kind Regards

Mr Kane

March 23, 2020
by Mr Kane
0 comments

Microsoft Office 365 – Free to all pupils via Glow

Dear parent/carer,

A small number of pupils have mentioned that they cannot open word or excel files issued this morning by staff. I am pleased to say that all pupils can download Office 365 for free from within Glow. Please follow the instructions in the undernoted file to install the software.

Kind Regards

Mr Kane

March 23, 2020
by Mr Kane
0 comments

School Closure – Access to materials online

To all pupils and their parents/carers,

How do young people access materials shared online?

Scottish schools use an online system called Glow. Within Glow, different schools and local authorities use different apps. When a young person from our school signs into Glow, they should access the ‘Mail’ tile. This will open their Glow email account. On the left-hand side of the screen, underneath where it shows inbox, sent items etc. pupils should see an option for Groups. Under the Groups heading, they should see a list of their classes. If they click on a class, they will see messages and instructions left by their teacher. Within the Groups area, staff can upload files, send messages, setup calendars and provide access to some other online learning facilities such as Microsoft Teams. The use of Groups guarantees a level of online provision and access to instructions/materials almost immediately.  Some staff and pupils will already use some of the other apps we can access via Glow. In these cases, teachers will clarify where young people will find work from within the Group area for that particular class.

The form of content pupils are asked to complete will vary. Some staff may direct pupils to reading material or online revision tools. Others may upload questions for completion or may share some new content online. There is no one method that is suitable for every class and stage.

We have also shared guides on how to access glow groups on our homepage https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/ea/stjosephsacademy/2020/03/20/pupil-guides-for-accessing-glow/ . In addition it is possible to access glow via xbox and playstation, https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/ea/stjosephsacademy/2020/03/20/glow-on-games-consoles/

Where a young person has forgotten their Glow username or password, you can use the Contact Us page – https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/ea/stjosephsacademy/contact-us/ – to request a change of password. We are also aware of a small number of young people with no access to a device that can support online learning. We will make contact with you on an individual basis over the coming days and into the early part of next week.

Plans for timetable change (new S4 – S6 pupils)

Our timetable is scheduled to change in late April/early May. As the school closure situation currently has no defined end point, we are in the process of developing contingency plans that may allow for ongoing digital learning in new courses at that time. That is to say that pupils currently in S3 may find that around early May, content for their new courses is published via Glow etc.

It should be noted that the timetable for next session is not due to be created until mid-April. We are aware of a small number of pupils yet to complete their options interview. In the run up to Easter we will conduct telephone or digital interviews. Alternatively, young people can email their options in to us using the ‘Contact Us’ page on our website.

Communication

Finally, can I please encourage you to ask friends with young people in attendance at our school to follow us on Twitter/Facebook and download the school app. The school homepage and social media feeds will be updated as and when necessary and will act as your main source of information during the school closure period. Access to the system we use to send SMS messages and direct emails from school is not guaranteed and as such those forms of communication are likely to be used less often than social media channels.

Kind Regards

Mr Kane

Headteacher

March 20, 2020
by Mrs SHEARER
0 comments

Messages from Skills Development Scotland

Pupils

Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the closure of the school, Skills Development Scotland cannot deliver career services face to face, but they are still there to help. You can contact your school Careers Adviser, Kate Faulds for career information, advice and guidance at kate.faulds@sds.co.uk or Tel: 07500 097 503, or visit http://myworldofwork.co.uk.

Parents

Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the closure of the school, Skills Development Scotland cannot deliver career services face to face, but they are still there to help. Your child can contact their school Careers Adviser, Kate Faulds for career information, advice and guidance at kate.faulds@sds.co.uk or Tel: 07500 097 503, or visit http://myworldofwork.co.uk. You can also still access their career services. Call your local centre to speak to one of our qualified advisers. Find your nearest centre at http://myworldofwork.co.uk/centres. You can also find their services for parents/carers online at http://myworldofwork.co.uk and www.mykidscareer.com

 

March 20, 2020
by Mr Kane
0 comments

College Application Guide

A number of our current S3 to S5 pupils are applying for various college courses on offer next session. The file below provides guidance on how to complete the application process. School staff will also make contact next week to provide any support and guidance necessary.

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